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UFC 214 fight card: Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone preview

MMA: UFC 195-Lawler vs Condit Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight striking specialists Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone will battle this Saturday (July 29, 2017) at UFC 214 inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

On fight night, it will be just one day short of a year since Lawler lost his title. Ever since that loss, UFC has done its best to match up the former kingpin with Donald Cerrone, knowing the result would be a surefire war. After injuries to both men delayed the bout, it’s finally set to happen at UFC 214. For a quick minute, Cerrone competing for the 170-pound title seemed imminent after “Cowboy” dominated his first four foes. Jorge Masvidal interrupted those plans violently, but Cerrone can bounce right back into the title mix by defeating Lawler.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:

Robbie Lawler
Record: 27-11 (1)
Key Wins: Rory MacDonald (UFC 189, UFC 167), Johny Hendricks (UFC 181), Carlos Condit (UFC 195), Matt Brown (UFC on FOX 12)
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (UFC 201), Johny Hendricks (UFC 171)
Keys to Victory: Lawler is a destroyer. Among the most violent members of the sport, Lawler has combined his savage fighting instincts with some refined kickboxing, and it’s all backed up by stellar takedown defense.

Frankly, the biggest key to victory for Lawler is to punch “Cowboy” in the face really hard.

From the boxing range, Cerrone is not so good at not getting punched in the face. What he is good at, however, is keeping opponents far away with hard kicks and jamming their attempts to close distance.

Lawler has been stymied by similar approaches in the past.

To avoid that fate, Lawler needs to pressure and throw punches up the middle. Cerrone historically has a problem with a pair of things: Southpaws and straight punches. Cerrone is not a tight puncher, which means the Southpaw cross often cuts inside of his own shots and lands first. In addition, Lawler would be wise to kick at Cerrone’s mid-section for several reasons. The left kick will be easier to land opposite an Orthodox foe, but it will be especially effective as it attacks Cerrone’s weak point and stops Lawler from being weaponless at range.


Donald Cerrone
Record: 32-8 (1)
Key Wins: Rick Story (UFC 202), Matt Brown (UFC 206), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 59)
Key Losses: Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 23), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 6)
Keys to Victory: Cerrone is one of the most effective Muay Thai kickboxers in UFC history. His defense has its flaws, sure, but most of the time Cerrone’s opponent is already broken down from a dozen kicks to the leg and body before he can think to take advantage.

Cerrone has finished 14 opponents in UFC, which isn’t even considering his violent World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) career.

Cerrone’s path to victory is remarkable clear here. If he can keep Lawler away from him, those “Ruthless” punches won’t touch his jaw, and Cerrone will be able to kick him until Lawler is a less dangerous lump of bruising. For Cerrone, it’s vitally important that he lands either the snap kick up the middle or intercepting knee — ideally both — with some consistency. Those are his best strikes to deter pressure, and landing them is pretty much mandatory for him to back Lawler off.

Bottom Line: It’s finally happening.

Perhaps more than any other fight I can imagine, this bout guarantees a kickboxing war — between two great technical fighters, mind you — with the potential for either man to knockout the other. It’s very possible that Lawler closes in on Cerrone and blasts his head into the stands. There’s also a real chance that Lawler never touches Cerrone, as “Cowboy” rips him apart with long kicks. And perhaps best of all, both could happen, and we have a classic blood-and-guts battle across all three rounds.

There are viable reasons to believe any of the three situations will go down ... and that’s exciting.

It’s also hugely important for both men. They’re both coming off true knockout losses, which is something of a rarity for either athlete despite their long careers. Another loss pushes them out of the top five and really Welterweight relevancy, while a return to form can just as easily bounce the winner back into the title mix.

At UFC 214, Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?

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